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Old addresses and switched off phones: How UK returnees are increasing risks of the new COVID strain

As many as 90 passengers among the returnees from the United Kingdom have gone missing in Delhi. These passengers either gave wrong contact information or had wrong or old addresses mentioned on their passports.

Amidst the worries of new COVID strain Sars-Cov-2 that was first reported in the UK, the irresponsible behaviour of UK flyers across India is adding to the problem. As per a report by Hindustan Times, while authorities are trying their best to locate hundreds of UK returnees since November last week, several of them are untraceable. They have given incomplete or wrong addresses and switched off their phones that have increased the worries of the authorities in states like Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana and Punjab, among others.

The woes of Karnataka

Since November last week, Karnataka and Telangana have seen the maximum number of returnees from the UK. According to the health ministry, From November 25 to December 23 midnight when the flight ban was imposed, around 33,000 passengers came from the UK and landed at different airports across the country, as per the HT report. According to Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar, 2,406 people came to Karnataka, and 570 were untraceable.

While the state health ministry and the police are trying to trace these people, they have switched off their mobile phones showcasing irresponsible behaviour. Of the 1,614 passengers who were tested for Covid-19 in Bengaluru, 26 were tested positive, including the three who were tested positive for the new strain of the virus. Sudhakar said, “I have been promised that within 48 hours all of them will be traced.” Among the 570 missing passengers, 204 gave the address of Bengaluru.

90 travellers went missing in New Delhi

As many as 90 passengers among the returnees from the United Kingdom have gone missing in Delhi. These passengers either gave wrong contact information or had wrong or old addresses mentioned on their passports. Since November 25, around 14,000 passengers landed at IGI Delhi. Out of these, 1,500 were from Delhi. After testing, 20 were found to be positive for Covid-19. It has to be noted that not all districts in Delhi provided data about the returnees missing. Hindustan Times mentioned in its report that out of eleven districts, they could get numbers from only five districts.

Telangana administration running from pillar to post

As per the Telangana government, out of 1,100 UK returnees in the state, 279 were not traceable. Dr G Srinivasa Rao, director of public health of the state, said that they had forwarded the details to district officials. About the remaining returnees, he said that the rest of them had been traced and tests are being conducted after taking swab samples.

The state health officials and administration has been trying to locate, trace and contact each of the UK returnees. As per latest reports, 156 were yet to be found.

Punjab’s trouble increases as many go missing

Though the administration has not revealed how many UK returnees have been traced yet, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid in the state, 1822 returnees landed in IGI Delhi, and 1,604 returnees landed at GRDI Amritsar since Diwali. “We are yet to complete the task of tracking all of them. Our district administrations are on toes to track them. There is a large number who are yet to be traced. We are expected to come out with the exact figures by Wednesday evening,” he said.

Tamil Nadu traced almost all returnees

Tamil Nadu has so far recorded one positive case for the new strain. Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said that they have managed to trace almost all returnees since December 1. “We have provided details of a few who could not be traced,” he said.

27 missing in Odisha

The Odisha health department has said that out of 181 returnees from November 30 to December 21, they could not trace 27. Director public health, Dr Niranjan Mishra said that these passengers gave vague addresses and wrong contact information.

In Bhubaneswar, BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary informed that in the first phase, 20 UK returnees were identified, of which 3 were tested COVID positive. In the second phase, around 60 returnees have been identified so far and testing is on. He added that though zonal teams have been formed, many people have used their international phone numbers for ticket booking which is making tracing difficult.

20 untraceable in Uttarakhand

As per Abhishek Tripathi, chief operational officer, Uttarakhand, out of 227 people who have returned from the UK in the past one month, they could not trace 20 passengers. Majority of the passengers were from Dehradun. They gave wrong addresses and mobile numbers that led to the issue.

Uttar Pradesh: 2-year-old infant becomes first to be tested positive for the new strain

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked all concerned authorities to be strict with tracing the UK returnees. As per the reports, a two-year-old from Meerut became the first one to be reported positive for the new strain. Meerut CMO Dr Akhilesh Mohan said “We had a list of over 1,650 persons who returned from the UK or via the UK after November 23. Of these, we have been able to screen more than 1,500 persons and only 10 have tested positive for Covid-19 pandemic. The genome sequencing report of five was received today while that of others is awaited.”

Principal Secretary, health and family welfare, Alok Kumar, have asked people not to take the Covid protocols lightly. He said that while the number of cases in UP is going down, the new strain is more contagious. “However, the prevention for both was the same. Therefore, wearing a mask, following social distancing and washing hands with soap and water or using sanitisers was the safest bet at the moment,” he said.

Covid-19 status in India

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, so far, India has reported 1,02,44,582 cases of Covid-19. There are 2,62,272 active cases while 98,34,141 have been discharged. 1,48,439 deaths have been attributed to COVID-related complicatios so far.

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